Who: No. 2 Wisconsin vs. No. 3 Michigan State
When: 3:05 p.m. CT (25 minutes after Michigan vs. Ohio State)
Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis
TV: CBS — Kevin Harlen (play-by-play), Steve Kerr and Greg Anthony
Wisconsin and Michigan State will meet for the second time this season, but the Spartans will look like a completely different team than the one that fell 60-58 in the Kohl Center Feb. 9.
This go around, in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals, the Spartans will be in full force with Keith Appling and Branden Dawson ready to take their shot at the Badgers after both missed out in the first meeting.
Both teams are coming off of blowout wins in the quarterfinal round as Michigan State took care of the Cinderella hopefuls Northwestern 67-51 and Wisconsin blew by Minnesota by 26 behind Ben Brust’s career-high 29 points.
In their first meeting, Josh Gasser was tasked with slowing down the Big Ten’s fourth-leading scorer, Gary Harris, and responded by holding Harris to just six points on three of 20 shooting.
After falling to the Badgers, the Spartans would sputter through the final stretch of its regular season schedule, finishing 3-4 in its final seven games. But, now Michigan State is back at full strength with Appling and Dawson fully back into the Spartans’ lineup.
Ben Brust: 12.9 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.3 apg
Josh Gasser: 9.2 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.8 apg
Traevon Jackson: 10.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.9 apg
Sam Dekker 12.8 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.4 apg
Frank Kaminsky 13.1 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.8 bpg
Gary Harris: 17.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg
Adreian Payne: 15.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.4 apg
Keith Appling: 12.6 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.7 apg
Branden Dawson: 10 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.8 apg
Denzel Valentine: 8.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.9 apg
Michigan State: Branden Dawson
Dawson will be in his fifth game back after missing nine games due to a broken hand he suffered when slamming his hand on a table while watching film. The junior failed to hit double digits in his first three games back from injury, but broke out Friday against Northwestern with a team-high 16 points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes. Dawson is getting his legs back under him and could provide the Spartans with the offensive balance that they lacked in the first meeting with the Badgers.
Wisconsin: Bench Players
All of Wisconsin’s starting five are proven scoring threats, but when Bo Ryan can call to his bench and see the offense improve, good luck. Freshmen Nigel Hayes and Bronson Koenig combined for 29 of Wisconsin’s 32 bench points against Northwestern Friday. Both Hayes and Koenig single handedly put an end to Minnesota runs as Koenig hit back-to-back threes when the Golden Gophers were within four points and Hayes scored seven-straight points when Minnesota was threatening to cut Wisconsin’s lead to single digits. If the bench can contribute like it did Friday, Wisconsin’s chances of advancing to the tournament final are very high.